Stag's Hollow Winery News
Welcome to the Stag's Hollow blog. We will be highlighting articles that feature our wines, awards won, events that are happening at the winery as well as wine education features.
Our 2019 Tempranillo Joven has received some high praise from Robert K Stephen of Set The Bar, with a score of 92 points.
"The aroma is basically screaming “Black Cherry” at your nose, raspberries, dark chocolate and some pomegranate add to the mix. I think the nose is hinting at a serious wine? On the palate warm and inviting with a certain lightness to it. The technical sheet describes this wine as “zippy and fresh”. “Zippy” makes me nervous as noticeable acids in red wine can be volatile and destructive. No I would call this light and seductive. I am picking up some sour cherry, blueberry pie and loganberry jam. The tannins are light. And at 12.3% alcohol surprisingly robust."
For the full article, please click here.
As many of you know, Stag’s Hollow Winery was established in 1995 by founders Linda Pruegger and Larry Gerelus. In their 25+ years building the winery business, they have contributed significantly to the success and growth of the British Columbia wine industry. Since the sale of the winery in April of 2019, Linda and Larry stayed on to help guide the team through the transition and have worked closely with new owner Eric Liu.
“In the early days, one of our biggest challenges was convincing people they should buy British Columbia wines”, says Linda Pruegger. At the time, the Okanagan Valley had approximately 28 wineries whereas today that number is closer to 200. “And the highlight was the recognition by open-minded consumers that some very good wines were being produced”, says Larry Gerelus. From winning international wine awards to planting Spanish and Italian grape varieties, Linda and Larry have pushed boundaries and opened doors for many to follow.
Neighbour Leslie D’Andrea of Noble Ridge credits the two with helping her and husband Jim establish their vineyard, “We met Larry and Linda in the late 1990s when they had just started and were immediately impressed with their wine. When we bought our land in 2001, Larry and Linda kindly agreed to manage the property. We couldn’t have got started without them and will be forever indebted to them for that kindness.”
In a recent Q&A with Linda and Larry, prior to their retirement last month, they provided a bit of insight into the past and their future.
Q: What are you most proud of accomplishing from the time you first acquired the vineyard until now?
Linda: “We took a vineyard with varietals we needed to change and grew it into a beautiful and successful winery and vineyard.”
Larry: “I’ve always wanted to make the best Merlot in the Okanagan. Over the 25 years I believe we have accomplished that. I feel that the terroir at Stag’s is very special and in particular makes great and consistent Merlot. The second was sticking with Vidal. In the 3 years preceding starting the winery, when we would be closing up the trailer in November we would pick the Vidal remaining after harvest. I’d take it back to Calgary and make wine. What I discovered [by waiting until after the frost] was this intensity and fascinating flavour profile. So the first official harvest of Vidal in 1995 was picked very late and by 2000 we had a formula for picking and fermenting it that pretty much remains to date.”
Q: What was your most memorable moment over the years?
Linda: “One of our most memorable moments was being invited to Barolo Italy to pour our ‘Italian wines’. They were extremely well received by the international audience and people were so grateful and surprised to try such beautiful wines from Canada. Most did not know we even grew grapes and produced wine.”
Larry: “The most memorable great moment was receiving a Gold Medal at the 2001 Okanagan Wine Festival for our 1999 Merlot. 1999 was a very cool vintage, but it resulted in intense and vibrant wines on our site. What made it somewhat unusual was Sinclair Phillip’s (Sooke Harbour House owner, and then-wine festival judge) visit to the wineshop only minutes before we were to close and rush off to the festival to get set up that Saturday evening. Before leaving the wineshop he ordered 25 cases of the 1999 Merlot. When we arrived and were setting up Harry McWatters was taking John Ralston Saul around to various tables. One of them was ours, where he introduced us and asked if they could taste the 1999 Merlot. We still were not aware that it had won a Gold Medal. We definitely started to add things up, and when the Medals were announced we then found out what this was all about. A great moment for Linda and me.”
Q: What were some of the biggest challenges/highlights of the early days in the industry?
Linda: “In the early days our biggest challenge was convincing the hospitality industry that BC was making good wines and that they should buy BC. It was equally challenging to get visitors to stop at Stag’s Hollow and try wines from a new winery.”
Larry: “The highlight was the recognition by open-minded consumers that some very good wines were being produced. In retrospect the number of “wine” people that would say that in the Okanagan we could not make decent reds, and that they could never be age-worthy: they were so wrong!”
Q: Of all the wines you made over the years, what wine/vintage has been your favourite, and why?
Linda: “With so many wines this is a very difficult question! A couple come to mind right off the top. First, the 2011/2012 Hawk’s Hollow. Made from Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot these are both smooth, rich, complex wines. The other is our 2015 Teroldego, which I believe was our first vintage. I savour every bottle we open and will be very sorry when we have no more.”
Larry: “Aside from the 1999 Merlot mentioned above, I have to bring both Tempranillo and Albariño into the picture. Both wines I loved from Spain and had to find out if they could grow here. I’m not sure I would have planted Tempranillo knowing what I know now, but I’m glad I did. Like Cabernet Sauvignon in this valley, they are not like Tempranillo from other parts of the world, but definitely still Tempranillo and some delicious wines that age so well.”
Q: What are you most looking forward to in retirement?
Linda: “I look forward to slowing down and having weekends in summer, enjoying a long leisurely coffee in the morning on my deck, and spending more time becoming fit again.”
Larry: “Enjoying our old vintages without analyzing and critiquing them - just enjoying.”
Eric Liu purchased Stag’s Hollow Winery on April 17, 2019. Eric owns Bench 1775 in Naramata as well as vineyards in Summerland and the Similkameen valley and has worked with Linda and Larry to assemble a strong leadership team in each area of the winery including the appointment of Sales and Marketing Manager Erin Korpisto to the role of General Manager.
In her role as General Manager, Erin is responsible for the operations of Stag’s Hollow Winery. “I’m thrilled to work with the team in this role,” says Erin, who first joined the winery in February 2019. “I’m honoured to have the trust and confidence of Eric and to build on what Linda and Larry started.”
Erin and the team will build on the legacy created by Linda and Larry. With winemaker Keira LeFranc and vineyard manager Vilem Blazek, the focus at Stag’s Hollow continues to be on low-intervention farming and crafting small lot wines of distinction. “We’re fortunate,” says Erin. “It’s a privilege to work with such talented people.”
The team at Stag’s Hollow wishes Linda and Larry all the best in their retirement, and looks forward to welcoming guests old and new over this next season and beyond. If you would like to follow Linda & Larry on Instagram, their handle is @stagshollowfounder. Especially knowing that many of you have formed friendships with Linda and Larry over the years, if you would like to get in touch by email, they can be reached at email@example.com.
Thank you to John Schreiner for his recent reviews on our 2018 Syrahs! For his complete post, please click here.
94 points from John Schreiner
"The winery also bottled 24 1.5-litre magnums of this excellent, age-worthy wine. This wine, made from fruit grown in the Amalia Vineyard on the Osoyoos West Bench, is a fist in a velvet glove. Deep in colour, the wine begins with aromas of black cherry, plum, leather and black pepper, all of which is echoed on the full-bodied, even fleshy, palate. It is immensely satisfying to drink now and will age gracefully for 10 years – longer for the magnum."
92 points from John Schreiner
This wine has 9.2% Viognier co-fermented with the Syrah (the Renaissance had just 1.2% Viognier). The fruit is also from the Amalia Vineyard. The Viognier in the blend gives an appealing floral lift to the cherry and blackberry aromas. On the palate, there are flavours of plums, cherries, pepper and spice with complexing notes of licorice and earth on the finish.
Cheers to Robert K Stephen for his recent reviews on our 2018 Syrah and 2018 Renaissance Syrah, scoring them each 92 points.
"All said and done a great Okanagan take on a Northern Rhône Syrah wine. Restrained and elegant, Nothing is out of whack here."
To read Robert's complete reviews on both wines, please click here.
After a year with many of the usual wine judging and awards being cancelled, we' were excited to submit several wines to this year's British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards Judging Competition took place in mid-September, with the awards being announced last night. The results for Stag's Hollow wines are as follows:
GOLD - 2017 Renaissance Merlot
SILVER - 2019 Blanc de Noirs
SILVER - 2017 Syrah
BRONZE - 2019 Albariño
BRONZE - 2019 Pinot Gris
BRONZE - 2018 Pinot Noir Shuttleworth Creek
89 points from Anthony Gismondi, gismondionwine.com
A mix of Dijon clones from Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard is the star behind this stylish pinot noir. The attack is juicy, the fruit ripe but with earthy, sour cherry, black cherry, and black tea atop spicy forest floor, trailing into a dry, dusty, smoky finish. Its delicacy comes from only 13.6 percent alcohol, which allows all the pinot complexity to shine. It is fun to drink and ready to drink. Try this with grilled salmon and fall vegetables. Drink or hold through 2022.
90 points from Anthony Gismondi, gismondionwine.com
The Stag's Hollow is always a slightly bigger pinot than the Shuttleworth Creek version, given its advantage of a warm west facing aspect. The nose is fresh and clean with vibrant cherry and plum that spills across the palate. Again lively and lithe, the juicy red fruit mixes with licorice and cola, before a long, mouthfilling, balanced finish. Stag's Hollow Estate Vineyard is home to the oldest pinot vines at Stag's Hollow. Now at 26 years of age, they deliver a complex mix of co-fermented Dijon clones 115 and 667. Turkey would be a fine match.
2018 Pinot Noir Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard (90 points): "On the nose raspberry galore, sweet red cherry, milk chocolate and strawberry. This is what some may call classic Pinot Noir. On the palate it is smooth and low in tannins. Slim notes of raspberry and sweet red strawberry."
2018 Pinot Noir Stag's Hollow Vineyard (92 points): "Light ruby coloured with a delightful nose of black cherry, black cherry cola, raspberry, strawberry and Cherry Kool Aid. On the palate although the tannins are velvety there is a certain gruffness on the palate highly suggestive this is a very food worthy wine. Notes of blackberry, cassis and cherry jam with a warm midweight finish."
2019 Albariño (92 points): "Mid gold in colour. On the nose cantaloupe, apricot, white peach and 1960’s upside down pineapple cake. And on the palate the notes match those from the nose. It is smooth and full bodied and at the end of the day is on par with the best Spanish Albariño."
Through the month of August we are offering our 2019 Pinot Gris on sale, at $2 off per bottle. This wine is new for us this year and our winemaker, Keira, is quite proud of it:
"Having never worked with Pinot Gris before, the stylistic possibilities were almost overwhelming. We decided that a rich and textural, off-dry Alsatian style would suit our portfolio well, and would allow us to show off the more premium side of Okanagan Pinot Gris. To afford us as much variety and flexibility as possible when it came time to blend, we decided to divide this block into several picks, and then divide those lots even further into different vessels. While all this may have added extra work, the result has been tremendously exciting."
Wine writer John Schreiner is also a fan, having awarded it 92 points:
"To distinguish it from the ocean of Pinot Gris in the market, winemaker Keira LeFranc decided to make it in what the winery calls “a rich and textural, off-dry Alsatian style.” She succeeded brilliantly. The wine begins with appealing aromas of pear, white peach and citrus. The palate is indeed rich, with flavours of pear, apple and honeydew melon. The wine has a lingering finish with a hint of spice."
2020 BC Lieutenant Governor's Wine Awards
Gold - 2017 Renaissance Merlot
Silver - 2019 Blanc de Noirs
Silver - 2017 Syrah
Bronze - 2019 Albariño
Bronze - 2019 Pinot Gris
Bronze - 2018 Shuttleworth Creek Pinot Noir
2020 Cascadia International Wine Competition
Gold - 2016 Tempranillo
Silver - 2017 Renaissance Pinot Noir
2020 Wine Press Northwest Best of the Best
Double Gold - 2018 Syrah Rosé
Gold - 2016 Renaissance Merlot